Medicine

Man's Brain Has Air Pocket Instead Of Right Front Lobe, Doctors Shocked

Man's Brain Has Air Pocket Instead Of Right Front Lobe, Doctors Shocked

He noted his left arm and leg had also become weaker but his apparent fitness and lack of "confusion or facial weakness" led doctors to believe there was nothing obvious, aside from age, to explain his symptoms.

Following a routine trip to the doctor's office, an 84-year-old man from Ireland discovered that most of the right side of his brain was missing and a large air pocket taking its place.

But a head CT and MRI scan revealed that where the right frontal lobe of his brain should be, the patient had only a large, empty void, called pneumocephalus.

According to Brown, the 84-year-old patient was in ideal health, with no history of smoking or drinking.

"(We) were all very perplexed by the images we saw!" Dr. Finlay Brown, co-author and physician at Causeway Hospital in Northern Ireland, told Newsweek via email.

However The Washington Post reported that the man is doing well and has even reported he no longer feels any weakness.

"To find a pocket of this size in an organized fashion was extremely uncommon, with very few documented cases found while I was researching for writing up the case report", Brown added. Instead, he received various types of medicines to help prevent future strokes, Brown told Live Science.

Such a condition occurs when a pocket of pressurized air forms within the cranium, which typically happens after brain surgery, the BMJ report published in February, said.

While the air-pocket had also caused the patient to suffer a mild stroke, he declined surgery to decompress the pneumocephalus or remove the tumour due to his age and other health issues.

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An MRI would show the pneumatocele's likely cause was an osteoma, or benign bone tumour, that had formed in the man's sinus and was eroding through the base of the skull, Brown said.

Staff chose to give the man a CT and MRI scan, and it was then that they saw the blank where some of his brain should have been, measuring 3.5 inches long.

"From speaking to the specialists, it seems it has been progressing insidiously over months to years", Brown told the Washington Post.

His nonsurgical approach is not without risk: It's likely the patient will be at a greater risk for infection, since there remains a passageway for air - and therefore bacteria and viruses - into his brain cavity, Brown said.

At his twelve-week check-up he said the weakness in his left side had eased.

In addition to the alarming air pocket, the CT scan also disclosed that the man had a benign tumor in his skull.

"The left-sided weakness was noted to have resolved on follow-up 12 weeks later and he remained well", the authors conclude in the published report.

Dr Brown said the 84-year-old patient's case was a warning to other physicians not to write off common symptoms.


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